The Bronfman Family moved to Canada from Russia. They had made their money in the tobacco business, but found that the Canadian climate wasn’t conducive to growing tobacco. In 1924, they built a distillery in LaSalle, Montreal under the name of Distillers Corporation Ltd. In 1928, the Distillers Corporation acquired the stock from Joseph E. Seagram and Sons of Waterloo, Ontario. Bronfman built his business based on the appeal of brand names developed by Seagram, these included: Calvert, Dewars, and Seven Crown. His sales were boosted during the United States' experiment with prohibition. Bronfman stayed within the confines of both Canadian law where prohibition laws had been previously repealed and American law. American prohibition ended in 1933. At that time, Bronfman’s company owned a large, private stock of aged whisky. He was able to expand and establish a plant in the U.S.A. By 1948, the company’s profit was 53.7 million dollars. The company ventured into the oil and gas business during the 1950s and 1960s. By the end of 1965, the company had operations in 119 countries and their sales exceeded 1 billion dollars. The sale of whisky dropped in the 1960s, but higher end products like Crown Royal and Chivas continued to do well. Edgar Bronfman purchased stock in MGM Studios. Unfortunately, in 1970, MGM lost 25 million dollars. Edgar Bronfman had been the chairman of the studio, but at this point he resigned. In 1975, the name of the company was changed to the Seagram Company. The company continued to expand its liquor business. In 1980, its gas and oil properties in the U.S. were sold to Sun Co. Ltd. It retained its Canadian and international gas properties. In the late 1980s, Edgar Bronfman named his younger son, Edgar Jr. as his successor. Edgar Bronfman Jr. purchased 15% of Time-Warner in 1993 and 80% of MCA (now Universal Studios) which he sold in 1996 for 330 million dollars. In 1998, Bronfman announced that he would further expand his entertainment holdings by buying Polygram NV. In 2000, Edgar Bronfman announced that Seagram was being sold to the French conglomerate Vivendi. The Bronfmans retained 25% of the merged company which was called Vivendi Universal. The newly merged company didn’t work out and Vivendi Universal shares dropped from $77 to less than $25 a share. In 2003, Vivendi sold the Seagram building and auctioned off the Seagram art collection in order to pay its debts. The Seagram assets have since been acquired by other companies, such as Coca-Cola, Diageo, and Pernod Ricard.

Sources: and Opening program for the Seagram Museum

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Recent Submissions

  • Atlas de France Vinicole, 1946

    Larmat, Louis (1946)
    An atlas of wines of France from a series. This particular Atlas is from the year 1946 and includes photographs, maps and descriptions. The descriptions are in French, English and Italian.
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    An advertisement for Hedges & Butler, Wine Merchants to the Queen, in London, England. The advertisement lists the prices for: Sherries, Ports, Clarets, Champagnes, Burgundies, and Madeiras.
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    An illustration from the "Canadian Illustrated News" that shows a group of individuals "gathering the fruit" and then a "scene in the vineyard".
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    The Wine and Food Society (1940)
    A menu from the event "le Diner de Noel Des Pape Clement V to be held at St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco, California. The menu includes several varieties of wine, all highlighted in red ink.
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    Olmo, Harold P. (Wine Advisory Board, San Francisco, California, U.S.A., 1971)
    An article published by the Wine Advisory Board in California, that discusses the history, culture and process of making Chardonnay.
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    A poster advertising "Alcohol Education Galt, Preston, Hespeler Schools, Churches, Service Clubs, Industry. A Community Study of Alcohol Problems". In the top right corner is a picture of an individual, W. Gray Rivers, Field Secretary of O.T.F. in Charge for the Ontario Temperance Federation.
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    Ontario Temperance Federation
    A poster produced by "A Provincial Educational Project of the Ontario Temperance Federation" for an event called "Teen-Age Turn-Out". The event is to take place at Cornwall Armouries.
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    Ontario Temperance Federation
    A poster for two days of events in Lindsay, Ontario. The poster is by the Ontario Temperance Federation and offers a "Teen Age Turnout" on Saturday November 14th and an assembly on Sunday November 15th featuring Dr. Wm. Seath "direct from 20 yrs. on Chicago's infamous 'Skid Row'".
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    Howard, Frank (W.W. Whitney, 111 Summit Street, Toledo, Ohio, 1868)
    A music score called "The Drunkard's Home" by Frank Howard. The front cover of the score has an illustration of two different experiences. One side of the illustration appears to be a family sitting by the fire as the patriarch reads the newspaper and the matriarch tends to one of the children. The other side of the illustration shows children on the floor in torn clothing as a female is slumped over a table and two men stumble in the door.
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    A selection of European alcohol labels, including: Grandezza Dansk Frugivinsfabrikat, Max and Moritz Perlwein, Gumpoldskirchner Konigswein Neuburger, Jisenski Biser.
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    Bonani (1928-10)
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    A photograph of two men standing behind the counter of a liquor store. The reverse of the photo has a handwritten description that reads "Buffalo Liquor Store 1900-1920".
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    A selection of slides displaying the process of cork making. There are seven slides displayed, but the collection is forty three in total.
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    circa 1930
    A selection of slides that appeared in the book "Rum Across the Border" by Allan Seymour Everest. The slides show Overton's Corners Border Station and the large volume of traffic that was inspected, a popular Canadian border spot, The Meridian Hotel and the U.S. Marshall destroying liquor in Rouses Point, N.Y.
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    Six labels from the Hiram Walker Company, established 1858. The labels are from Gold Crest Canadian Whiskey, Crystal London Dry Gin, Peppermint Schnapps Liqueur, Creme de Menthe, Crystal Vodka Distilled, and Canadian Club Canadian Whiskey.
  • Gooderham's Labels

    A collection of Gooderham's labels that include: Bonded Stock Canadian Whisky, London Dry Gin, Big Brown Jug Canadian Rye Whiskey, and Rich and Rare Canadian Whiskey. The labels indicate the distillery was established in 1832, Toronto, and is Canada's first.
  • Sir Robert Burnett Labels

    A collection of Sir Robert Burnett labels. The company was established in England in 1770, but these labels read "Distilled and Bottled according to the Original Formula of Sir Robert Burnett Co., Ltd. London W.I., England by The Sir Robert Burnett Co. A Division of Distillers Corporation Ltd. Montreal, Canada".

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